CBI: High street sales fall at fastest rate in 33 months

Research carried out by the CBI indicates a sales slump as squeezed middle squeezed further.

Figures outlining the level of high-street activity in November have revealed a sharp decline in sales, in a sign that shoppers are staying away from the high-street as incomes are squeezed. The pace of decline in annual sales growth for November has exceeded expectations from retailers themselves.

The data, gathered by the CBI in their Distributive Trades Survey showed the lowest recording since March 2009, at minus 19. The figures also represent a steep monthly decline from October's data recording of minus 11.

Samuel Tombs of Capital Economics said: "November's survey suggests that the pressures on consumers' finances are taking their toll on spending on the high street." He went on to argue that this pointed "to retail sales volumes falling at an annual rate of around 2 per cent".

Adding to the bleak outlook Annalisa Piazza, of Newedge Strategy, said the data suggested UK retail was "back at recessionary levels".

In a statement the CBI's chief economic advisor, Ian McCafferty, said: "Retailers remain hard pressed, even as we get closer to Christmas." Adding that retailers "may be hoping that shoppers will loosen their purse strings in the run-up to Christmas, but consumers are likely to remain cautious about spending given the uncertain economic outlook."

The news comes ahead of a week of major economic news, especially that of George Osbourne's Autumn Budget and the expected announcement that the Office for Budget Responsibility is to downgrade the UK's growth forecast.